One of London's busiest Magistrates' Courts holds no information about TV Licensing search warrant applications since 1st January 2013.
Using the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we sought the following information in relation to Thames Magistrates' Court, which serves much of the east end of the capital:
1. The number of search warrant applications made by employees of the BBC/TV Licensing/Capita Business Services Ltd in accordance with Section 366 of the Communications Act 2003.
2. Of those applications, the number granted or refused.
3. Of those applications granted, the number with information laid to the effect that detection/detector van evidence had been (allegedly) obtained by the BBC/TV Licensing/Capita Business Services Ltd.
Her Majesty's Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) responded to our request saying that after a conducting a thorough search and making enquiries with Thames Magistrates' Court, it could confirm that it did not hold the information requested.
You can read HMCTS's letter of response here.
You might remember that we previously made an identical request in relation to North Tyneside and Teesside Magistrates, which resulted in the disclosure of the relevant statistics. That being the case, we consider that HMCTS would have provided a similar statistical breakdown in relation to Thames Magistrates' Court if it could.
HMCTS's response again left questions unanswered, so we attempted to clarify exactly what was meant to by "no information held". We also asked HMCTS to confirm that if the statistics did exist, they would have been disclosed as in the case of those from North Tyneside and Teesside.
Neglecting its obligations under section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, HMCTS has thus far failed to provide any assistance in clarifying its response.
On the face of it, HMCTS's response would suggest that TV Licensing search warrant applications, even in a busy urban Magistrates' Court like Thames, are very few and far between.